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Golf: Not So Sure About Stanley

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Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland

It wasn’t third time lucky for Kyle Stanley as he threw away his chance to win at Torrey Pines

Stephanie Wei reminds us, “Now this isn’t Stanley’s first difficult heartache, but it’s by far the most painful (and memorable). Last year at the John Deere Classic he was leading by two until he bogeyed the last hole, while Steve Stricker birdied the final two to win. To be fair, Stricker pulled off an incredible shot from the fairway bunker and then made a clutch putt…There was also last year’s U.S. Open Sectional qualifier in Columbus last June. He was in a six-way playoff for the three remaining spots. Stanley was the first eliminated with a sloppy bogey on the second sudden-death hole. (He also looked like he was going to puke and/or cry, but don’t blame him…)”

And so with thoughts of collapses and golfers’ reactions when it’s crunch time I thought I’d take the opportunity to make a plug for my book, Life’s Lessons Frae The Links. And tell two stories of contrasting attitudes which say a lot about the two characters and their character.

The first story involves Chip Beck at The Masters.

“Standing looking over the second shot to the 15th during the 1993 Masters we (Chip Beck and his caddy Steve Bender) had a decision to make. Go for the green in two shots or play it as a three-shotter?

            We knew Bernhard Langer was leading but not by much. This would be our big chance to catch up if we would be brave, go for broke, make a birdie, maybe even an eagle.

            It was now the time to decide. Bender broke the silence and gave Beck the yardage to the hole with the look in Beck’s eye begging the question.

            “What do I do now?”

            Bender went to pull the head-cover off Beck’s 3-wood thereby suggesting they go for the green.

            “Not so fast, let’s talk about this,” said Beck.

            “What’s there to talk about,” asked Bender, “You’ve got a perfect lie, 235 yards to the front.”

            Now came the moment—Speak up or shut up? Say no more or give some sage advice? Bender decided to speak up.

            “You know Chip, there’s times you’ve gotta go for it and this is one of them. You have the chance to win the Masters.”

            Beck stalled; not sure if going for it was the green light that would send him on towards his first green jacket. He walked ahead of his ball to get a feel for Augusta’s fickle breezes.

            “There’s a a little breeze blowing in our face, you know, he said to Bender.

            “Yeah, but it’s not a strong breeze,” Bender replied giving more reasons why Beck should go for it, than Beck could give reasons why it made sense to play safe.

            Beck decided to play safe and when Bender asked him why, he replied, “I didn’t want to mess my round up.”

             The second story involves Jean Van de Velde’s famous final-hole collapse at Carnoustie.

            “If Jean had found, as could have been expected, a rugged rrrough lie he would’ve been forced to wedge it out on to the fairway and left himself a short iron to the green and still have some shots up his sleeve to win.

            Instead to his everlasting credit, that’s only my opinion and not shared by Curtis Strange who said of Jean’s decision to hit a 2-iron, it was, “the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”

            As for Jean’s thoughts on the decision, he said, “I didn’t feel comfortable hitting a wedge. To me, it was against the spirit of the game. I’m going to hit a wedge, then another wedge, and then what? Three-putt from thirty-feet to win by one? Okay, fair enough I’d win by one, but what a way to finish!”

           Neither man won their chance to win their respective Majors but I do believe Jean’s go-for-it attitude is the difference that makes the difference between winners, losers and those who can live with their decision to go for it.

Here’s the link to Stephanie  

Quote of the Day

“Maybe I should have laid up. But there are worse things in life…It is a golf tournament. A game and I gave it my best shot.” – Jean Van de Velde

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